She stirred, her mind struggling to push away whatever fog permeated it.
“Thia? Are you awake?”
The voice was male, but not one she recognized. Part of her screamed a warning, but the fog quickly silenced it. It can’t be Lolth, she reasoned. it’s a man. Remember what they taught you. Observe, don’t react. They’re coming for you. Kelemvor won’t leave you here.
She was laying on something soft. The ropes that bound her were gone, and she could feel cloth on her. She wasn’t in the cocoon any longer, and dressed. Was that Lolth’s doing? Or had Jinnaari and Pan found her already?
“It’s okay, Thia. No one else is here but us. You don’t have to be afraid.” Someone sat down near her, shifting the blankets covering her. A bed, then? How did she get into a bed?
She moved her hands, touching the smooth sheet beneath her. Flexing her fingers, she tested her strength. Lolth had given her something, but what? Would she be able to reach her magic?
You won’t know until you try, she chided herself. Whoever this is knows you’re awake. They’re coming for you. You just have to hold on until they do. She maneuvered her body so she’d be facing whoever was in the room. That it was a man was reassuring; that ruled out both Lolth and her mother. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes.
The Drow smiled at her. His hair was white, but he had the same lilac eyes she did. “Hello,” he said, smiling at her. “My name’s Aust.”
She sat up, moving herself farther from him in the process. She didn’t respond to him. Instead, she took in her surroundings. A richly decorated bedroom, done in shades of blue and gray, surrounded her. A fire burned in the fireplace, adding both warmth and light to the room. “Where am I?” she asked.
“Your room, of course! Granted, you’ve never been able to enjoy them, but Ishacte and I both had a hand in putting it together. If something’s not right, just let us know. We’ll get it corrected.” His voice was overly eager.
“You know Ishacte?”
Aust laughed. “Of course! She’s our sister! Not nearly as talented, kind, or nice as you are, to be certain. But she’s as eager as I am to make sure you have whatever you need, now that you’re home.”
Something about the man’s name tugged at a thread in her mind, but the knot refused to untangle. “Where’s Herasta?”
“Dead, of course. You’re the head of the house now, Thia. You’re our Matron Mother. After what she did to you,” he paused, “it wasn’t right. None of it was. She denied you your birthright, abandoned you to a life on the surface. But it’s all going to be fine now. You’re home, where you should’ve been the whole time.” He reached out and put a hand on hers.
The cold chill of death ran in her veins as the ghostly hand passed right through hers. “You’re not real,” she whispered. “You’re dead. Worse than dead.”
A bright red stain began to seep across the white shirt he wore. Aust’s eyes narrowed and his expression changed. “That paladin,” he spat out the word, “killed me. Same as he killed our sister. All to keep you from taking your rightful place. But now you’re home. You’re Hers, the same as we are.”
The room faded away as blackness overtook her.